Relationships can be complicated. Marriage can be challenging. Separation? It can be stressful and confusing.
So you are separated from your partner. You are living in your own space while your partner is living elsewhere. You’re waiting to see whether you can work through your relationship issues and reconcile or move on. But you’re tired of being alone and want to return to the dating scene.
It’s normal for you to start wondering if and when it’s okay to begin dating during a trial separation. In this article, we are covering everything about trial separation dating, its meaning, why it’s sometimes needed, and how to go about it if you decide to take the plunge.
Let’s get into it.
What is a trial separation?
A “trial separation” is an agreement between couples where they agree to live separately for a while to re-evaluate their relationship or marriage. The most fundamental goal of a trial separation is to give couples space and time to determine their future actions, whether to deal with their challenges or end the relationship or marriage.
Unlike a permanent separation, a trial separation is an informal agreement, so there’s no paperwork involved.
Benefits of a trial separation
Besides giving you space and time to reflect and re-evaluate your relationship, a trial relationship has other benefits.
How else does it help?
- It gives you perspective. It helps you distance yourself from your partner and the situation, making you see things objectively.
- You become more independent.
- Separation can lead to a renewed appreciation for your partner. Being away from them can make you value their companionship and support more.
- It prevents you from making hasty decisions that you might regret later.
- It helps you avoid conflict.
- You can learn more about yourself.
- Due to its informality, it can save you money.
Also, it has some potential disadvantages, including
- You risk growing apart- out of sight, out of mind.
- Distance can’t resolve some things, such as a lack of intimacy.
- Where kids are involved, it might be hard for them to make this transition. Separation can leave the kids feeling overwhelmed and emotionally sensitive.
- It might lead to divorce.
- It can cause financial constraints, especially when a couple has shared responsibilities.
Do trial separations work?
Often, people tend to believe that they have to live together to work things out. However, there are times when partners need space and time alone to reflect instead of making drastic decisions.
When is a trial separation the best remedy?
- When there’s a communication breakdown in the relationship. Lack of communication can lead to frequent conflicts and growing resentment between partners. A trial separation can give the partners space and time to improve their communication and listening skills.
- When one or both partners have cheated. A trial separation after infidelity can give both partners a much-needed perspective on this issue and help them recover and work through it.
- When a major life event has happened, such as job loss, childbirth, a chronic illness, traumatic situation, etc. A trial separation can give both partners a break to help them adjust to the changes and determine if they’re still compatible moving forward.
- When a relationship stunts your personal growth. A trial separation can allow you to improve your personal growth and self-improvement.
Whether trial separations work or not depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the break and the willingness of the couple to resolve their differences.
Trial separation checklist
A trial separation may not be formal, but it requires certain guidelines and decisions to work. Here are some things that should be agreed upon in a trial separation.
- Set a clear timeline. How long will you be separated?
- Sort your finances
- Living arrangements
- How you’ll handle the kids
- How often you should communicate
- To date or not to date other people
- Whether there’s a need for couples therapy
- Whether you should disclose the separation to your friends and family
- Sex and intimacy
Dating during a trial separation
Let’s say your separation period is too long, or you’ve just met someone new and can feel some chemistry. Also, you might have been unhappy in your relationship. Now you miss being with someone for companionship or sex, hence the urge to date other people.
These feelings are natural. But the truth is, dating during a trial separation is difficult, particularly when navigating the early stages of separation because you’re still wrapped up with your partner.
To date or not to date?
Honestly, it’s a personal decision that requires careful consideration.
If you’re separated and likely to get back together with your partner, you should not date other people. Instead, use this time to work on yourself and focus on how you can strengthen or rebuild your relationship. Dating other people is a distraction and can complicate your efforts to repair your relationship.
However, if you’re sure the relationship is over and you feel ready to date other people, you may do so.
7 Important things to keep in mind while dating during a trial separation
Here are some things you should know about dating while separated;
Before you decide to date other people, it’s important to date yourself first. Dating yourself means dedicating your time, energy, and resources to caring for yourself. It works the same as dating other people, only that you focus more on yourself and what makes you happy.
Dating yourself can promote self-love, connect you with your inner self, and help you build a healthy relationship with yourself.
So if you’re on a trial separation, go on dates alone, try new things, make nice meals, pamper yourself, go on solo vacations, etc. Do what makes you happy.
Communicate with your partner
Talk openly and honestly with your partner and let them know about your intentions to date; tell them that you are considering seeing other people. You should also be ready to listen to their concerns.
Also, if you no longer want to reconcile with your partner, let them know so clearly.
Respect your partner’s feelings
Remember, you still share feelings with your partner even when separated. You’re probably still talking about your feelings and emotions. Therefore, if you decide to date other people, don’t flaunt or discuss your dating affairs with your partner. It can be considered disrespectful.
Take things slow
Don’t dive head-first into an intense connection with someone new. Instead, take things slowly. You get to figure out what you want and need.
Remember that you’re still technically in a relationship, and rushing things may not be in your best interest.
Be honest with the people you meet
Be honest with your dates from the start. You don’t need to share every detail about your separation, but let people know and be clear on what you want.
Will your new relationship status put some people off? Absolutely. But it’s the right and fair thing to do. Don’t lie about yourself, your situation, or your kids.
Rebound dating is when you rush into a new relationship without an emotional connection. One of the biggest reasons rebound relationships happen is to escape from the pain of a previous relationship.
However, rebound relationships are toxic and unhealthy because, eventually, the pain will catch up with you. So, don’t mask your feelings by dating other people. Instead, allow yourself to experience a wide range of emotions.
Protect your children
Having kids makes dating a lot more complicated. You may wonder: Is introducing my new partner to my kids right? When is the right time to introduce my new partner to my kids?
Kids are very sensitive and need time to transition to this new life. Also, young kids tend to form attachments quickly. Therefore, timing is the most important thing to remember. Don’t be in a hurry to introduce your new love interest.
In addition, if you’re dating casually, shield your children and keep your casual dates private.
A “trial separation” is a period during which a couple decides to live separately. The period of separation varies, ranging from a few weeks to several months.
The main motive is to give each other space and time to rethink their relationship.
As much as it has no formalities, it’s essential to have guidelines that act as terms and conditions to guide you through this whole separation process.
Trial separation dating is not easy for either partner, even if you decide to end the relationship. We recommend that you don’t rush into dating. So, if you’re contemplating dating other people, re-evaluate your feelings first, assess your relationship, and ensure that your partner is aware of and okay with it.